Mike Munchak

Broncos Notes: Munchak, Paradis, Modkins

Gary Kubiak went from Broncos front office exec to impending Denver OC to Vikings assistant head coach. We heard the Super Bowl-winning head coach wanted to bring back former Broncos assistants Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani to be part of the next Broncos offensive staff, and that led to the breakup between the coach and the team with which he is most associated. But John Elway‘s HC interview with Mike Munchak, while not being enough to deter the GM from offering the position to Vic Fangio, went well enough he wanted the Pittsburgh offensive line coach to come to Denver as an assistant. That was a deal-breaker for Kubiak, who sought Dennison to oversee his offensive line concepts, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos fired Pariani in 2017, and the franchise was not ready to rehire him, Klis adds. Pariani will now coach tight ends in Minnesota. Rich Scangarello is now the Broncos’ OC.

Here is the latest from Denver:

  • On the subject of Scangarello, it looks like the former 49ers quarterbacks coach will be hiring someone to serve in that role in Denver. Previous QBs coach Mike Sullivan, as could be expected following the dismissal of 2017-18 Broncos OC Bill Musgrave, is not expected to be part of the 2019 staff, according to Klis (on Twitter). Sullivan had two NFL tours as an offensive coordinator, with the Buccaneers from 2012-13 and with the Giants from 2016-17.
  • However, the Broncos will retain one of their other offensive assistants. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins will be back, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. The 2016 San Francisco OC who then worked with Fangio in Chicago as the Bears’ 2017 running backs coach, Modkins succeeded longtime Denver RBs coach Eric Studesville and oversaw the stunning development of Phillip Lindsay. He will have a chance to continue working with the Pro Bowl back and third-round pick Royce Freeman in 2019.
  • Perhaps the Broncos’ best center since Tom Nalen, Matt Paradis is not a lock to return to Denver as a free agent. The Broncos would like him to come back, but Klis notes he will test the market. This could be a significant development, as the 29-year-old blocker will probably be the top center available come March. Denver brass and Paradis entered into extension discussions last year, but the sides could not reach an agreement. Paradis’ ironman streak ended in November as well, with a broken fibula ending his season. The Broncos stand to hold $40MM-plus in cap space and have some cap-casualty candidates, but Paradis going to the market may well mean it will cost a team eight figures annually to sign him.

Coaching Rumors: Rizzi, Dennison, Browns

Darren Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins coaching job that is likely to go to Brian Flores, but the special teams coordinator is a coveted commodity around the league. The Packers are set to interview him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Miami wants to retain Rizzi, who has been with the team throughout the 2010s, but has given him permission to seek employment elsewhere. That may soon prompt an extensive interview circuit. Five teams are interested in bringing him aboard, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Vikings look to be one of those. Rizzi, 48, has only coached for one NFL franchise. His pre-Dolphins gigs were college jobs in the northeast, including a one-season stay (2008) as Rhode Island’s head coach.

As week three of many teams’ offseason begins, here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Todd Monken‘s rise to Buccaneers play-caller earned him interest in teams’ OC jobs. He ended up landing with the Browns, but the other recent play-caller on this staff will call Cleveland’s plays next season. Freddie Kitchens will be the game-day director for the Browns’ offense next season, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). This won’t be too new for Monken, who spent the first two seasons as Bucs OC watching Dirk Koetter call plays.
  • The Vikings announced Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks coach) and Brian Pariani (tight ends) are following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, with the latter’s official title being assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Expected to be part of the Gary Kubiak gang getting back together up north, Rick Dennison was not included in this announcement. But Mike Klis of 9News notes the former Broncos and Bills OC is indeed believed to be part of the next Vikings staff (Twitter link). When Kubiak agreed to reprise his longtime role as Broncos OC, he wanted Dennison to oversee the team’s offensive line concepts, per Klis. The Broncos’ pursuit of Mike Munchak overruled this, and Dennison — the Jets’ O-line coach in 2018 — could be set to have a role in aiding the Vikings’ blockers next season.
  • Speaking of Munchak, the Broncos went beyond their usual offensive line coach budget to bring him over from Pittsburgh, Klis notes (on Twitter). Munchak, who has coached for just two franchises (the Oilers/Titans and Steelers), has family in the area.
  • The Steelers promoted Shaun Sarrett to replace Munchak as their O-line coach, the team announced. Sarrett had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. He has been with the Steelers for seven seasons, helping instruct their offensive linemen for most of that time.
  • After the Steelers let running backs coach James Saxon go, he will move to Arizona. The Cardinals are hiring Saxon to coach their running backs, Aditi Kinkabwala of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He will replace Kirby Wilson and attempt to revive Arizona’s No. 32-ranked ground game. Saxon has 19 years’ experience coaching running backs in the NFL — the past five with the Steelers, where he oversaw Le’Veon Bell‘s rise and James Conner and Jaylen Samuels‘ quality replacement efforts — and should help rookie NFL coach Kliff Kingsbury.
  • Kris Kocurek will move from south Florida to the Bay Area, shifting from the Dolphins’ defensive line coach to the same role with the 49ers, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM tweets. Kocurek, 40, was the Lions’ D-line coach for nine seasons prior to moving to Miami.

Broncos To Hire Mike Munchak

The Broncos have agreed to terms with Mike Munchak to be their new offensive line coach, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Munchak was the runner-up in their head coaching search before the hiring of Vic Fangio and the club kept in close contact with him as they built out the staff.

The team announced the hire.

Initially, it was believed that Munchak might be a candidate for the offensive coordinator role that was abandoned by Gary Kubiak. Instead, he’s making a lateral move from the Steelers to the Broncos, though he’ll presumably receive a pay bump.

Munchak, 58, has been the Steelers’ offensive line coach since 2014. His contract expired after the 2018 season, so he had no real roadblocks on his way to Denver.

Munchak is widely regarded as one of the league’s best offensive line coaches in the NFL. Under his command, the Steelers’ front five helped transform Le’Veon Bell into a star and vaulted James Conner into the upper echelon of running backs in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos’ OC Search

The Broncos continue to search for a new offensive coordinator, but it sounds like a front-runner has yet to emerge.

For starters, three candidates have already been connected to the opening: former head coach Gary Kubiak, 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak. There was some optimism that the organization would hire Kubiak, but the two sides ultimately decided to go in different directions. The Broncos were denied their request to interview Scangarello, but Troy Renck of Denver7 (via Twitter) notes that the team is still pushing to interview the San Francisco quarterbacks coach.

When it comes to Munchak, it sounds like the long-time coach may not even be a candidate for the offensive coordinator opening. Renck says the Broncos are hoping to hire the 58-year-old as their offensive line coach, a position Munchak has held with the Steelers since 2014. Munchak’s contract with the Steelers has (or will soon) expire, so the Steelers wouldn’t truly have the means to block him from taking a different gig. We learned yesterday that Munchak was set to meet with the organization.

Ultimately, the final decision will come down to new head coach Vic Fangio. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets that “the hire will be completely Vic Fangio’s call.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Meet With Mike Munchak

The Broncos’ agreement with Gary Kubiak went bust, but they’re still intent on adding experience to Vic Fangio‘s staff. The Broncos notified the Steelers of their intention to speak with Mike Munchak, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Munchak’s contract with the Steelers has (or will soon) expire, so the Steelers wouldn’t truly have the means to block him from taking a clear promotion elsewhere. Munchak’s possible role in Denver is unknown, but he would fit as a logical OC candidate to fill the role that was set aside for Kubiak.

Just days ago, Munchak was interviewing with the Broncos in their head coaching search. He did not get the nod, but he did impress and he wound up as a finalist alongside Fangio.

Munchak is widely regarded as one of the league’s best offensive line coaches in the NFL. Under his command, the Steelers’ front five helped transform Le’Veon Bell into a star and also made backup James Conner

Munchak served as the Titans’ coach from 2011-13 and has overseen one of the NFL’s best offensive lines in recent years. Pittsburgh’s front helped turn Le’Veon Bell into a star and James Conner into a quickly capable replacement while also aiding Ben Roethlisberger to four straight Pro Bowls and a 2018 5,000-yard season.

Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak is among the best at what he does, and Denver had him in the final 2 for their HC interviews. Possibly adding both Munchak and Vic Fangio would be quite a coup for the #Broncos… and clearly a rough loss for Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Deciding Between Vic Fangio, Mike Munchak?

The Broncos’ head coaching search may soon be coming to a close. Denver is GM John Elway appears to be deciding between Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, according to Mike Klis of 9News

[RELATED: PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Fangio was largely overlooked in last year’s cycle, but he’s high atop the Broncos’ list this year. The two sides met on Monday and Elway was said to be seriously mulling him on his flight home. Fangio is 60 and has never been a head coach his 40 years of coaching, but his resume and recent results are impressive. In 2018, the Bears ranked No. 1 in scoring defense and allowed just 17.7 points per game. For all of the Broncos’ offensive woes, they’d be doing a lot better if they got back to being one of the league’s scariest defenses.

Munchak, meanwhile, is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. Since taking the job in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger‘s sack rate has been cut roughly in half, which is no small feat. Unlike Fangio, Munchak boasts previous head coaching experience, though he’s also in the same age range. Munchak will turn 59 in March, but Elway does not seem afraid of bucking the league’s youth-forward trend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Vikings, Browns, Dolphins, Jets

Right after the biggest coaching news of the cycle dropped with the Packers’ hiring of Matt Lafleur, we have a fresh batch of coaching rumors ready.

One of the most prominent coordinator openings is the Vikings’ offensive coordinator position. The team fired John DeFilippo midseason, and promoted Kevin Stefanski to that role. Although many initially thought Stefanski would be back in Minnesota, he is “unlikely to return”, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who notes the team is “looking for depth of experience.” Robinson writes that former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey is a candidate for the job, and he thinks recently fired Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is a candidate as well.

Koetter is indeed a candidate for the job, confirms Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. A source told Goessling that Koetter is a strong candidate for the job. Interestingly both Koetter and Mularkey have interviewed for the Falcons’ OC job in recent days. Koetter was Atlanta’s playcaller before landing the job in Tampa Bay. Robinson writes that Koetter has been “presumed across the league to be a lock for the Falcons OC job”, but that Minnesota is “in play” for him as well.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mike McCarthy has been linked to the Browns job ever since he was fired by Green Bay, but things appear to be cooling off between the two sides. Cleveland “talked with either Mike McCarthy or his reps today, but things are on hold for now while the Browns talk to other candidates”, sources told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. While it sounds like the Browns have put McCarthy on the back-burner, Demovsky notes he is still “very much in play for the Jets.”
  • Speaking of the Browns, the team completed their interview with interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens today, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. It’s unclear if Kitchens has a real shot at landing the head coaching job, as the back half of this season was his only experience even calling plays after he was promoted from quarterbacks coach, but he received a ton of praise for his work for Baker Mayfield. If he doesn’t get the job it’s highly possible he’s retained as OC by whoever takes over in Cleveland.
  • Pittsburgh’s offensive line coach Mike Munchak has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to leave the Steelers, and a source told Aditi Kinkhabwala of ESPN.com that he turned down an interview request from the Dolphins (Twitter link). Munchak has been very selective over who he’ll talk to in recent years, and it seems like the only way he’ll be on the move this cycle is if he lands the Broncos’ job. Recent reports have him as the “early favorite” for that gig.
  • We heard yesterday that the Jets were looking to set something up with Baylor coach Matt Rhule, and that meeting has apparently already taken place. The Jets “have discussed their head coaching vacancy” with Rhule, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Rhule has been buzzed about in NFL circles in recent years, as he’s done a great job turning around the programs at Temple and Baylor. He was considered for the Colts’ opening last year, but ended up removing his name from consideration.
  • The Dolphins were originally supposed to interview their special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi for their head coaching vacancy today, but the interview has been rescheduled for later in the week, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Rizzi is an outside the box candidate, but numerous former and current Dolphins players have lobbied for him to receive consideration. So far the Dolphins have interviewed Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, and Cowboys’ defensive playcaller Kris Richard in their search to replace Adam Gase. Whoever gets the job in Miami will likely have a new quarterback under center, as the team is expected

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Crennel, Rhule, Henry

Mike Munchak is once again a popular head coaching candidate, with at least four teams interested in his services. But we heard last night that Munchak has strong interest in the Broncos‘ opening, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Munchak has emerged as the early favorite for that position. Helping the Broncos’ cause is the fact that Munchak has family, including a granddaughter, in the Denver area.

Now for more rumors and rumblings from the AFC:

  • The Broncos are blocking other teams from interviewing senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak for offensive coordinator jobs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Kubiak wants to remain in Denver anyway, but he has expressed interest in returning to the sidelines as an OC, and the Broncos would like him to serve in that role under whomever they hire as their next head coach (assuming that person is comfortable with such an arrangement). The Bengals and Falcons had requested interviews.
  • Texans free agents-to-be Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu want to be back in Houston next year, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. There has been no word on whether the Texans will move to re-sign Jackson, but the team does want Mathieu back, as we learned yesterday.
  • Romeo Crennel is expected to return as the Texans‘ DC in 2019, per head coach Bill O’Brien (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Jets have interest in interviewing Baylor head coach Matt Rhule for their own HC vacancy, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that Gang Green will get an interview with Rhule (Twitter link). The team is in Dallas interviewing Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard today, and Albert Breer of SI.com believes New York brass could interview Rhule while they’re in Texas (Dallas is about 90 minutes from Waco).
  • Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers should be able to land a lucrative free agent deal this offseason, but since he is not a prototypical speed-rushing DE, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes it is difficult to pin down what his value will be on the open market. Reiss suggests Flowers could return to New England after testing the free agent waters.
  • The Chargers will remain without tight end Hunter Henry for today’s playoff bout in Baltimore, but if LA wins today, Rapoport says that Henry will be activated tomorrow in the hopes of suiting up against New England next week.
  • Rapoport reiterates that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will not be back in Baltimore next season, but Flacco (unsurprisingly) wants to continue his playing career, and Rapoport suggests that he will get an opportunity as a starter (video link). The only real question is whether Baltimore will be able to trade him or if the club will be forced to cut him.
  • In addition to Flacco, the Ravens will need to decide what to do with impending free agent C.J. Mosley in the offseason. It would probably be unwise to sink too much money into an inside linebacker who struggles in coverage, but Mosley’s leadership abilities for a defense that could be losing a number of key veterans will certainly be a factor in contract negotiations, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

Coaching Updates: Arians, Bucs, Cardinals, Bowles, Eberflus, Browns, Munchak, Broncos

Ever since Bruce Arians stepped away from his job with the Cardinals, his name has been buzzed about as a potential head coaching candidate. He sat out the 2018 season while calling games for CBS, but appears set to return to the sidelines. He’s been publicly lobbying for the Browns’ job for a while now, but has seemingly now set his sights on the Buccaneers’ job. Because Arians retired with time still left on his contract with Arizona, the consensus was that whatever team would want to hire Arians would need to give some compensation to the Cardinals, but that’s apparently not the case, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Florio notes in a tweet that the Cardinals would’ve needed to exercise their option on Arians in order to have a claim on him, which they didn’t do. As such, Florio writes in his article that the Buccaneers didn’t even bother to notify the Cardinals they were interviewing him. As of now, Arians seems like a strong favorite to be Jameis Winston‘s next coach.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • We’ve heard that former Jets coach Todd Bowles will be in high demand as a defensive coordinator and possibly even head coach, and he might be even more sought after than anyone realized. Multiple head coaching candidates in this cycle are telling people they’ll try to get Bowles to be their defensive coordinator, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). It’s unclear exactly what teams might be in the mix, although there have been rumors he could reunite with Arians wherever he lands. Bowles was Arians’ defensive coordinator in Arizona for two seasons before being hired by the Jets.
  • We heard on Black Monday that the Browns were hoping to interview Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus for their vacancy, and now the interview has been scheduled. Eberflus will meet with Cleveland’s team tomorrow, the day after his team’s playoff win over the Texans, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN (Twitter link). Eberflus has done a great job running Indy’s young defense this year, and has been a hot name in this cycle.
  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has “strong interest” in the Broncos’ opening, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter notes that Munchak has “professional and personal ties to Denver” and that he shares an agent with Broncos GM John Elway. Munchak, who turned down a head coaching job last year according to Schefter, was the Titans’ head coach for three years before being fired and landing in Pittsburgh. Schefter writes that Munchak has been very reluctant to leave “because of his feelings for the Steelers”, but it sounds like the Broncos will be able to pull him away if they want to.

Coaching Notes: Vikings, Fins, Bills, Broncos

When Mike Zimmer signed a Vikings extension in the 2016 offseason, the terms were not disclosed. But the sixth-year Minnesota coach revealed Thursday 2019 is the final year of his contract. While another extension could be on the way, Zimmer is, as of now, a lame-duck leader. The 62-year-old coach said he would not resign nor retire until his contract was up. It’s not unheard of for a coach to venture through a contract year, but it is obviously abnormal. The Vikings have qualified for the playoffs twice in Zimmer’s five years but were one of this season’s most disappointing teams, falling short of January football despite a roster full of extended veterans.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Elsewhere on the Vikings’ staff, the team is working to re-sign special teams coordinator Mike Preifer, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Minnesota is, however, exploring alternatives in case a re-up is not finalized. Preifer has been Minnesota’s ST coordinator since 2011. Preifer did not sign the rollover option after last season, per ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link), making him a coaching free agent next week.
  • Brian Flores is set to meet with four teams in the coming days, and the Patriots linebackers coach’s first stop appears to be Miami. The Dolphins are making Flores their first interview, which Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets will begin Thursday night and last into Friday. Flores is slated to meet with the Browns, Broncos and Packers as well.
  • Another coach up for the Broncos‘ job, Zac Taylor is not the favorite going into the interview process, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. That could be expected of a 35-year-old position coach, and it could indicate the Broncos are serious about bringing Gary Kubiak back to the sideline as their OC. John Elway said a coaching role for Kubiak was being considered. A Taylor hire would seemingly impede this, but former Broncos running back C.J. Anderson said the similarities between the Rams’ offense and Kubiak’s Denver attack helped him assimilate quickly in Los Angeles. Mike Klis of 9News wonders if this could make a Taylor-Kubiak setup possible, with Klint Kubiak moving up to quarterbacks coach.
  • Flores’ Broncos interview will occur Monday. So will Vic Fangio‘s, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. Taylor and Mike Munchak will interview for the job on Friday. The Broncos finished their Chuck Pagano meeting Wednesday.
  • The Bills are moving on from two assistants, including special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, per ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak (on Twitter). As ESPN’s Seth Walder notes (via Twitter), Buffalo finished this season with the NFL’s worst special teams efficiency rating. Buffalo also fired wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, Marvez tweets. Twice an interim head coach, with the Redskins and Browns, Robiskie just completed his 37th season as an NFL coach. He’s been a wideouts coach for five teams; Crossman was a pre-Sean McDermott-era holdover, joining the Bills’ staff as ST coordinator in 2013.
  • Detroit will move on from another offensive assistant, firing Derius Swinton, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Just 33, Swinton has already been an NFL assistant for 10 seasons, serving as the 49ers’ ST coordinator in 2016. Although he helped in that area in Detroit following Joe Marciano‘s midseason firing, his primary role was on offense. The Lions and OC Jim Bob Cooter parted ways this week. Despite serving under Cooter, Swinton was a Matt Patricia hire.